India to build satellite tracking station to eye on China

Updated: July 8, 2020 Published: 2016-01-25

( - India will launch a satellite tracking center and image in southern Vietnam, which will give access to Hanoi to satellite images of Earth observation of India covering the region, including China and the Sea South China, Indian officials said.

The measure, which could irritate Beijing, deepening ties between India and Vietnam, which both have long-term territorial disputes with China.
Although billed as a civilian facility - satellite earth observation are agricultural, scientific and environmental applications - security experts said that improved imaging technology meant the images can also be used for military purposes.
Hanoi has been looking particularly advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as increase tensions with China over the South China Sea dispute, they said.
"In military terms, this could be very significant," said Collin Koh, an expert in marine safety in S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. "It looks like a win-win for both parties, filling important gaps for Vietnamese and expanding the range of the Indians."
The Space Research Organization (ISRO) and set the center financed satellite tracking and data reception in Ho Chi Minh City to monitor the launches of satellites Indians, Indian officials said. Indian media, the cost at around $ 23 million.
India, whose 54-year-old space program is accelerating, with one satellite launch scheduled each month, has ground stations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Brunei, Biak in eastern Indonesia and Mauritius that track their satellites the initial stages of flight.
Central Vietnam will strengthen those capabilities, said Deviprasad Karnik, a spokesman for the ISRO.
But unlike the other stations abroad, the installation is also equipped to receive satellite images of Earth observation of India that Vietnam can use in exchange for granting India the tracking site, an official said Government of India relating to the space program.
"It's a sort of quid pro quo to allow Vietnam to receive IRS (Indian Remote Sensing) photos directly, ie, without asking India," the official, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to talk to the said media.
"Obviously it will include parts of China of interest to Vietnam."
Chinese coastal naval bases, the operations of its coastguard and navy and its new artificial islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea would be targets of Vietnamese interest, security experts said.
Another Indian official said New Delhi would also have access to images.
India has 11 observation satellites orbiting Earth, which provides images with different resolutions and areas, ISRO said.
The Indian authorities had no deadline for the center would be operational.
"This is in the early stages, we are still in dialogue with the Vietnamese authorities," Karnik said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam confirmed the project but provided few details.
Chinese Defense Ministry said the proposed monitoring station was not a military question. The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.
Vietnam launched its first satellite for Earth observation in 2013, but Koh said was not intended to obtain high-resolution images in particular.
Security experts said Vietnam would probably look for real time access to the satellite images from India time and training in image analysis, a field of specialized intelligence.
"The advance of technology means that the lines are blurring between civilian and military satellites," said Trevor Hollingsbee a retired naval intelligence analyst with the Defense Ministry of Great Britain. "In some cases, images of a modern civil satellite is good enough for military use."
Sophisticated military reconnaissance satellites can be used to capture signals and military communications as well as detailed pictures of objects on the ground, capturing the details for less than one meter, Koh and other experts said.
The monitoring station will be the first facility of its kind in Vietnam and foreign follows other agreements between Hanoi and New Delhi that have cemented security ties.
India has extended a $ 100 million line of credit to buy patrol boats Hanoi and Vietnamese divers are training in India, while Hanoi has granted oil exploration blocks in India in Vietnam waters under dispute with China.
Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has shown a greater willingness to strengthen security ties with countries such as Vietnam, the primary concerns this would alter China, military officials said.
Do you want to participate in all spheres Vietnam The reason is obvious - China," he said retired Air Force group captain of India Ajay Lele in New Delhi Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis.
Both India and Vietnam are also upgrading their military forces in the face of growing assertiveness of Beijing, which has separately I fought wars with China in decades.
Australian based scholar Carl Thayer, who has studied military in Vietnam since late 1960, said the installation of satellite tracking showed both nations wanted to improve security ties.
"Their interests are converging on China and South China Sea," he said.

India to build satellite tracking station to eye on China

India to build satellite tracking station to eye on China
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